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Youths Offer 'Free Hugs' to Protest Moral Policing, Kolkata Metro Says No Clear Footage of Assault on Couple

Protesters raised slogans against acts of moral policing while holding placards and banners that read, “I Love Kolkata…We do believe in ‘Moral’ but not in ‘Moral Policing," and demanded stern actions against those who were involved in the incident.

Sujit Nath, Prema Rajaram

Updated:May 2, 2018, 10:54 PM IST
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Youths Offer 'Free Hugs' to Protest Moral Policing, Kolkata Metro Says No Clear Footage of Assault on Couple
Protesters hugging each other outside Tollygunge metro station.
Kolkata: A large number of youths gathered in front of the Tollygunge Metro Station in Kolkata on Wednesday and offered free hugs to protest against an incident of moral policing inside a Metro train at Dum Dum station on Monday, in which a couple was allegedly thrashed for standing ‘too close’ to each other.

Protesters raised slogans against acts of moral policing while holding placards and banners that read, “I Love Kolkata…We do believe in ‘Moral’ but not in ‘Moral Policing," and demanded stern actions against those who were involved in the incident.

'Free Hugs' were offered to everyone entering and leaving the metro station. Some of them seemed hesitant while many happily hugged each other. “I read about the incident on a news website and I decided to join the protest. This is shocking for all us that such a shameful incident happened in Kolkata. Like other states, we will not allow moral policing here in Bengal,” Sayantani Banerjee, a city based interior designer, said.
Clearing its stand over the incident, Kolkata Metro said on Wednesday that it found no proper evidence of the assault after scanning the footage of the CCTV cameras installed at Dumdum metro station. It added no one has approached it for help.

“The CCTV footage shows that around 10-15 people were standing at the Dum Dum station at 9.55 pm but they weren’t fighting. The scuffle took place at a blind spot where there were no CCTV cameras. The incident can only be seen from a distance. There are only 4-5 CCTV cameras at the Dum Dum metro station,” said Munawar Khan, senior commandant, Metro Railways.
Security personnel, too, were at the far end of the station and had no clue that such an incident took place, Metro Railway officials confirmed. The authorities have, however, condemned the incident and filed a suo moto
FIR at the Sinthee Police station against unknown persons.

Ajay Vijayvargiya, General Manager, Metro Railway, said, “We are strongly against moral policing. But we don’t encourage violence.” He said Metro authorities would assist the police in its probe. He assured people of increased vigilance at all metro stations in the days to come. The new rakes, to be commissioned soon, will be fitted with CCTV cameras, he said.

The 50 to 70 students who had gathered in the area said they planned to continue the protest for the coming few days at all the important places in Kolkata.

A young student of Hotel Management in Kolkata, Mrinal Das, said, “I faced a similar situation but thankfully, was not beaten up. A section of people passed objectionable comments when my girlfriend and I were holding hands in front of a restaurant in Central Kolkata few days ago. I was very annoyed but could not do anything that day. Therefore, today I came to express my objection against such acts of moral policing.”

On April 30, a young couple was allegedly roughed up by a group of elderly men inside the Metro for allegedly standing too close. They boy had said that he had rested his hands on the girl's shoulder while trying to guard her from the packed crowd inside.

The couple was thrashed as they got off at the Dum Dum metro station. The girl, who tried to save her male friend, also received multiple injuries. The duo was rescued by another group of youngsters who intervened in the matter.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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